New Winter Olympic Event: Vomit Relay

A norovirus outbreak has hit the Winter Olympics being held in PyeongChang, South Korea. Dozens of security guards have been overcome by “a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea.

In response, South Korea pulled 1,200 security guards from duty in case they had been exposed to the virus and replaced them with 900 military personnel. According to CNN, organizers have said that all accommodations and buses were being disinfected.

Norovirus is pretty gross, and we usually hear about it happening on cruise ships, and other crowded and enclosed areas. It’s extremely contagious and is spread via contact with contaminated surfaces or people who already have the virus. According to the CDC:

Norovirus can be found in your stool (feces) even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better…You can become infected with norovirus by accidentally getting stool or vomit from infected people in your mouth. 

Sounds fun, right? As always, frequent and perhaps compulsive hand-washing is recommended, (though obviously not everyone is following this suggestion, because think of all those people going to the bathroom, not washing their hands, and then running their fecal covered hands over public surfaces) along with these other suggestions.


If there’s one thing I love it’s the word vomit. A useful word to describe dislike or disgust with something, I try to incorporate this word into daily use.  You can imagine my delight/trepidation when seeing the following headline:

Winter vomiting alert: New strain of norovirus on the rise!

Even better is the graphic CBS News uses to illustrate this really fun virus:

wow hurl

This awesome vomit virus (officially named GII.4 Sydney) originated in Australia and has been spreading fast.  If you couldn’t tell from the picture it has a reputation for inducing projectile vomiting in affected people. The CDC says this strain has caused outbreaks in multiple countries and is responsible for over 140 outbreaks in the US.

I don’t know about you, but as a self proclaimed hypochondriac, I certainly feel vaguely nauseous just reading these articles.  I also ride public transportation frequently and touch probably hundreds of shared surfaces throughout the day so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this hurling virus is lurking inside me waiting to erupt.

Stay disinfected everyone!

-The sometimes updated PlagueGirl

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CDC Notes From the (Vomit) Field

Bacteria Making Themselves at Home in Your Reusable Bags

It’s grocery shopping day and you are ready to conquer the crowds by zipping in and out of the story with your handy list and reusable grocery bag.  Not so fast! Did you know that reusable grocery bag of yours could contain bacteria that may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially death? That’s right, the norovirus has struck again!

Bag O’ Germs?

A soccer team in Oregon recently became infected with the norovirus and experts traced it to a sick teammate’s reusable grocery bag.  The bag was in the hotel room with the sick teammate and particles of the norovirus landed on the bag, which the other teammates were then exposed to.

The virus can live on objects for a lengthy time period.  The bag in question tested positive for norovirus two weeks later.

Back in 2010, a study was conducted that tested 84 reusable bags for coliform bacteria, a category that included E. coli. The report says researchers found E. coli in seven of the bags tested. Though the risk for infection is small,  researchers also found 97 percent of the people interviewed never washed their bags.

Some have dismissed this study because it was funded by the American Chemistry Council which represents makers of disposable plastic bags, saying they may have a vested interest in showing people their reusable bags are covered in germs.

The good news is that washing these bags regularly decreases contamination by 99.9 percent. As always, proper hygiene and hand washing also dramatically decreases your chance of becoming infected.

CDC Norovirus Fact Sheet